What's Fresh with Stefan Petrucha's Rule of Won & a Giveaway!
The secret of The Rule of Won is simple, yet its power has been suppressed for generations. The universe is one of infinite abundance—ask, and you shall receive.
Umm, yeah right. Meet Caleb Dunne, slacker extraordinaire. Caleb prefers to glide through life with the minimal amount of effort, so he isn’t too jazzed when his overachieving girlfriend, Vicky, convinces him to join a new school club based on a controversial book, The Rule of Won. Slackers don’t join school clubs, do they? As The Rule gains popularity, though, the club members start to gain power within the school. From dark posts on the club’s online message board to all-out threats in the hallways, it becomes apparent that the group is getting out of control. For slacker Caleb, though, the only thing worse than doing something is not doing something.
Darkly funny and exceptionally thought-provoking, The Rule of Won, inspired by the ideas behind books like the runaway hit The Secret, shines a light on the dangers of group thinking and the inner desires that can sometimes get the best of us all.
Hi Stefan, thanks so much for sharing with us! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
Stefan: Sure! I’d been writing comic books professionally for years, but also trying to sell novels and screenplays. I actually self-published my first novel, Making God in 1997 and received a number of nice reviews.
My big break in book publishing came at the North Eastern Writer’s Conference, where I met the fabulous Liesa Abrams, at the time an editor for Razorbill/Penguin. I heard she was looking for YA authors, and she’d heard some people recommend me based on my comic writing (I was pretty well known for writing The X-Files comic book, based on the TV show). I wound up
pitching a few ideas, she picked one, and I did a few sample chapters, which became the four-book Timetripper series.
A funny fact about my career that surprises many of my fellow writers is that I’ve never actually sold a completed novel – I’ve always gone to contract based on sample chapters, then finished the book on a deadline basis. I’ve found establishing the dialogue with the editor sooner not only gets them more invested, it makes it more likely to result in something everyone’s happy with.
Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.
Stefan: Okay, but it’ll sound boring! On schooldays I’ll rise at 6:15 AM, make breakfast for the kids, see them off to the bus and wonderful wife Sarah off to work by 8:30. Sometimes I tinker on the piano a bit, then haul myself up to my office and spend about an hour answering email and cruising the web. I’ll write until 11-ish, then exercise for about an hour, while watching my latest Netflix.
Afternoons I like to pack up the laptop and head to a local coffee shop and work there for a few hours. I sometimes find it easier to focus when I’m away from home. In my office there’s too much else to do. At a coffee shop, I feel silly sitting there doing nothing, so I wind up working. The kids are home by 3:00. I make them a snack, then usually work until dinner
I admit it doesn’t sound very exciting, but throughout my mind is a seething cauldron of unbridled creativity that threatens to call down the stars from their distant, uncaring void and unleash a fiery cataclysm upon our most primal understanding of ourselves and the world. Then Sarah and I read with the kids, watch the Colbert Report and go to bed by 11.
Please tell us about your latest novel Rule of Won and what we can expect from your characters.
Stefan: The Rule of Won was released in September from Walker Books for Young Readers. My second hardcover with them, it’s a very wry look at a certain variety of self-help books like The Secret, which preach that all you have to do to achieve your heart’s desire is imagine that you already have it.
Caleb Dunne is the main character, a devoted slacker who’s trying to keep his over-achieving girlfriend from breaking up with him after a nasty incident in which he’s accused of trying to destroy the school gym. She steers him toward an after-school group devoted to the principles of The Rule of Won. When some of the group’s desires seem to come true “miraculously” the group begins to take over the school, even the teachers, and Caleb, when he stops believing, winds up standing alone against them.
Aside from Caleb, and the leader, Ethan, the group itself becomes an important character through a series of chapters that follow their messages board postings. I thought it was a nice way to get the feel of the school across, and explore how easy it is to get caught up in group-think.
What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
Stefan: I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my third book for Walker, Split, which is a little tough to describe. In a way, it’s actually two novels, each about the same person, Wade, if he’d made different choices with his life.
In one, Wade’s a wild child – he quit school and plays guitar at a coffee dive. In the other he’s incredibly responsible and working a project he believes will save the world. When he’s awake in one life, he’s asleep and dreaming in the other – but one world begins to intrude on the other and the two Wades find they have to switch to help each other out. There’s lots of
little threads to the stories that have to intersect, so it’s been a tough project, but I’m very excited about it – it may be my best yet!
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Stefan! I wish you the best with your writing. Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Stefan: Oh, there are so many. A lot of people say you should write what you love, but to be a professional writer (and that’s not always the same as being a good writer), you have to write what other people love (and no, they’re not always the same thing.)
My favorite bit of advice has always been to read tons of stuff, develop great taste and then write what you love.
Born in the Bronx, Stefan Petrucha spent his formative years moving between the big city and the suburbs, both of which made him prefer escapism. A fan of comic books, science fiction and horror since learning to read, in high school and college he added a love for all sorts of literary work, eventually learning that the very best fiction always brings you back to reality, so, really, there's no way out.
An obsessive compulsion to create his own stories began at age ten and has since taken many forms, including novels, comics and video productions. At times, the need to pay the bills made him a tech writer, an educational writer, a public relations writer and an editor for trade journals, but fiction, in all its forms, has always been his passion. Every year he's made a living at that, he counts a lucky one. Fortunately, there've been many. He currently lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife and fellow writer Sarah Kinney and their two daughters, Maia and Margo, where, frankly, it rocks. Visit his website, www.petrucha.com/
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